With the number of offseason coaching changes, the 2019 NFL season will feature a handful of revenge games for new head coaches. Two coaches – Miami’s Brian Flores and the Jets’ Adam Gase – will each have the opportunity to face their former teams not once, but twice. Here’s a look at the top NFL head coach revenge games of 2019.
Vic Fangio – Denver vs. Chicago
In Week 2 of the season, former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio welcomes his former team to Denver. Fangio is well-respected within the NFL community as one of the top defensive minds in the league. He served as the defensive coordinator for San Francisco from 2011 to 2014 before taking the same job in Chicago.
When John Fox was fired after the 2017 season, Fangio interviewed for the Bears head coaching job. Ultimately, the job went to current head coach Matt Nagy while Fangio returned to run the defense. Now, Fangio gets to show the Bears if they made the right choice.
Fangio’s defense has the talent to be one of the most dominant in the NFL in 2019. Linebacker Von Miller is a perennial All-Pro and DE Bradley Chubb, who had 12 sacks last year as a rookie, are two of the better pass rushers in the league. Fangio should be okay on offense with veteran quarterback Joe Flacco running the show. The Broncos will have to go up against last year’s top NFL defense, one that Fangio orchestrated.
Brian Flores – Miami vs. New England (twice)
Former New England de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores will have the opportunity to go up against his mentor, Bill Belichick, not once but twice in his inaugural season at the Miami Dolphins head coach. Flores, who coaches linebackers in New England, took over the defense when former coordinator Matt Patricia took the Detroit Lions head coaching job. Flores did not receive the defensive coordinator title however.
Regardless, it should be an interesting matchup. Legendary head coach against another of his proteges. If history is any indication, Flores is in big trouble. The number of Belichick disciples that have succeeded as NFL head coaches is limited. In fact, the number is one – Bill O’Brien in Houston. Other Belichick assistants that moved into head coaching roles have not had much success.
How about Eric Mangini? Romeo Crennel? Or how about Josh McDaniels year-and-a-half stint in Denver? The jury is still out on Detroit’s Matt Patricia, who won six games in his first season as Lions head coach. Belichick’s record against his former Foxborough assistants is a very good 12-5.
What might be more interesting than the game itself will be the post-game meeting of the head coaches. Will it be the simple handshake or will Belichick get another bear hug from a protégé?
Zac Taylor – Cincinnati vs. L.A. Rams
Zac Taylor has never been the head coach of anything before. The new Bengals head coach will get a chance to prove to his former bosses in Los Angeles that he can be a head coach – and a good one. Cincinnati will take on Taylor’s former team, the Los Angeles Rams, on Sunday, October 27. The game is one of four games to be played in London this season.
A former Nebraska quarterback Taylor has only been in coaching since 2008. The 2019 season will be just his eighth in the National Football League. He served as the Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach last season and the Bengals are hopeful that the 35-year-old Taylor turns out much like his former boss in Los Angeles, Sean McVay.
Bengals fans are hopeful for anything. Cincinnati hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2015 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990. This will be the first meeting between the two franchises since the Rams moved to L.A. Cincinnati has won the last three meetings. Taylor will be looking to make that four.
Adam Gase – N.Y. Jets at Miami (twice)
The Jets’ Adam Gase was fired by Miami then scooped up by a team in the same division. Gase, like Flores, will have the opportunity to face his former team twice this season. Gase’s time in Miami was not without tension and the two sides did not part amicably.
Gase, a quarterback-friendly coach, took Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins to the postseason in Year 1 of his Dolphins’ tenure. Then, injuries slowly decimated Miami. Tannehill suffered a torn ACL in a non-contact drill during training camp in 2017. In 2018, Tannehill missed seven games with a nagging shoulder injury.
After the 10-6 season in 2016, the Dolphins would go 6-10 and 7-9 and fail to make the playoffs again. The writing was on the wall for Gase despite much of the Dolphins’ problems being out of his control. Now, he will have a bona fide future star at quarterback in Sam Darnold and the makings of a powerful running game with RB Le’Veon Bell.
Ironically, it was Gase who had gotten the better of the Jets while he was in Miami. The Dolphins have won five of the last six against New York. Gase would like to flip that and will have Weeks 9 and 14 to do so.
Bruce Arians – Tampa Bay vs. Arizona
Bruce Arians is just happy to be doing what he loves – coaching football. Out of football after leaving Arizona with some health issues, Arians is back in Tampa Bay where he has a huge task in front of him. He will get to prove how he has done in 2019 when the Buccaneers host the Cardinals on Nov. 10.
The Week 10 matchup pits one of last year’s worst defenses – Tampa Bay – against one of the league’s worst offenses – Arizona. Arians is well-known for his work with quarterbacks including Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer. He’ll need to step up his work with Jameis Winston, who has underachieved as a starter for the Bucs.
The Cardinals finished dead last in the league in passing yards per game, rushing yards per game and points (14.1) per game. While in Arizona, Arians faced Tampa Bay three times – 2013, 2016, and 2017. He won them all. Can he do the same now that he is in Tampa Bay?
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